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Soldering Basics.


I'll try and expand it tomorrow with some more photos.

Meanwhile a few additional points:

I rather dismissed electric soldering irons but they do have the odd use, mostly for hole filling. My preference is still for one of the 100W pistol grip type as anything smaller really doesn't have much use for anything other than electronics and wiring. If you find you've got a small area of a joint that hasn't quite filled but is otherwise good quality, rather than risking messing it up by reheating with a gas torch, you can effectively fill the hole with the iron. Flux the area as before and then melt a small amount of solder onto the iron tip. Keep the trigger pressed so the solder really heats up and then touch to the area where the hole is. The solder is usually hot enough to make the bond and fill the hole but will freeze almost immediately as the heat is rapidly lost. You're left with a slightly lumpy carbuncle on the joint but you can trim it with a combination of modelling knife and file whereupon you should find the hole is now filled.

You'll also notice in the article that I precut lengths of solder and place them on the fluxed joint. The two advantages to this are that you can accurately control how much solder goes into the joint and also it leaves you with an extra hand free that would otherwise be engaged with feeding solder into the joint. In addition, you'll find that you won't use as much solder this way. There's no reason you can't hand feed straight off the reel and on occasion you may have to but a few moments cutting small lengths of solder for placing either with tweezers or the tip of a knife is worth doing.

Neither should you be put off the use of Multi-Core solder. It has five tiny cores of resin flux running through it but the amount is inconsequential and won't interfere with the plumbers flux. The solder itself is excellent quality.

One of the real tricks, particularly when starting to assemble something is purely taking the time to clamp or secure parts so they can't move when you solder them. I find most parts can be positioned and kept in place merely by leaning other metal objects up against them or even on them. There's nothing more frustrating that have the parts falling apart just as you're about to apply the solder. Taking some time laying the parts out or even cobbling together a simple jig can save you a lot of grief later on.

Finally, don't overheat the joint. Once the joint has reached soldering temperature, you don't need to hold the flame in place all the time. If you do, the flux can burn off and blacken, the solder can start to oxidise and the brass itself start to discolour. If you do get to that stage, clean it all off, re-flux and try again. If the brass starts to glow, you've gone way over the top and indeed you'll soften the brass because you're effectively annealing it. Soft solder melts at around the 185 degrees c. If the brass is glowing, you're in the 800's. You're unlikely to reach that point accidentally soldering a 44" with a small butane torch unless the mass of brass you're soldering is very small but it is easy to go too far with a blow torch. As with all these things, you'll get a feel for it as you do it. You must also give the parts adequate time to cool. Wait until the solder turns a dull silvery grey. It can be deceptive sometimes how long a joint can stay hot so give it time to cool. Blowing on it will speed things up. Avoid plunging hot items in cold water to quench them. The thermal shock can occasional crack the joint because of uneven shrinkage. Expansion is another consideration. When you heat brass it expands so it's advantageous to make the brass only hot enough so the solder may melt and flow. At soft soldering temperatures it's rarely a problem but I built a 'silver soldered' frame once (around the 750 degree c mark) and the damn thing distorted all over the place every time I added a piece. I only persevered with it because I'd gone so far down the road I had to keep going.
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Forum Supporter
Thanks for taking the time to share this! For some of us who don't work with metal too often, this is a great guide to push past the fear!




I'll try and expand it tomorrow with some more photos.

One of the real tricks, particularly when starting to assemble something is purely taking the time to clamp or secure parts so they can't move when you solder them.

Amen to that.

For certain features on the Grab Arm I spent an age setting up the various frameworks using clamps. I soon found that a good way of making very fine adjustments was to gently squeeze the jaws of the holding clamp and then tap the subject to achieve perfect alignment.


Fun Pod

DX, thanks for demystifying this process - very much needed. Oh, and Eagle, when DX has concluded his tutorials, please consider this thread going 'sticky'.


Forum Supporter
Many thanks for these articles, Chris.
I'm going to copy them into word and print them up at a later date.
The information is clear and well written.



Maybe you could demonstrate further by building a 22 inch spine and cage section, he says hopefully.

Thanks for the info very helpful!


That was brilliant DX and very useful.

Until recently, I always soldered using the tin/lead solder for electronics/wiring. Was never that happy with the results - now I can see why...!


Fantastic stuff...

Now I need to go and get a butane torch like that one. I have a small one but I just don't think it's man enough for the job.

I already have the solder, flux and brass - need to start cutting and shaping now and then I can have a go !

Ive just bought one from ebay at about £8 with free p and p,also i bought a tin of refill for a £1 ,bargain or what?


The missing and most important part - regular solderers should be aware of the hazards caused by soldering fumes.


Stormy320: The fumes from the flux being used can be hazardous and are often overlooked. I suppose it's more of a problem for regular solderers than someone messing with a few Eagle parts now and again.


Most solder always had a mixture of 30/70 or 36/64 of lead and tin. This gave it a lower melting point and made it easier to use. Here in the states, they are getting rid of any lead in solder because the fumes have been known to cause medical troubles of all kinds. This also makes soldering much more difficult because we now have to use hotter irons or hold a flame to it longer, possibly damaging the equipment your trying to build or repair.
I use a silver solder it is much stronger. Also I use a water base flux - it is a lot cleaner granted a higher temp is needed but the outcome is well worth it
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